Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
What is your immediate thought when the word “church” is used? Do you think of a building? If we’re not careful, we’ll fall into the state of mind that a local church is the gathering place where believers meet together. The church, though, was never meant to be known as a place.
There are various commands given in the New Testament that apply to how Christ followers should treat one another. The thing is, we can’t fulfill those commands if we don’t interact with one another. If we think that we can manage to live the lives God has called us to on our own, we’re mistaken. There are very good reasons to gather together as one.
As previously mentioned, the church is a family, and in a family there are relationships, expectations, and communication that take place. In order for that to be the case, people in the family of God need to gather. We need to learn and we need to worship, we need to encourage each other, and we need to help each other grow.
The local church is necessary for all of us who belong in the family of God. We can’t go at this life alone. We need each other, and we need a time and a place to congregate. The local church isn’t a building, it’s a people. If you’re not part of a local church family, you’re missing out on what the Father has in store for you.
Galatians 6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
The church has been called many things. We use descriptive words to portray something that has various layers to it. When we think of the local church, many times the illustration that comes to mind is that of a family. The thing is, the church is not like a family, the church is a family.
Just as a family household has multiple people of different relations that all function in their own role, the church has lots of different people that are all related in Christ, each with his or her own specific place in the family.
That doesn’t just mean that we each have our own special talents to use in the church, which we do. It means, deeper than that, that we are called to be different things to different people within the church family. To some you might find yourself a counselor, to others an encourager, while someone else may need a mentor.
As followers of Jesus, we’re supposed to show love to everyone, but none more so than our own brothers and sister in the family of God. There’s no better place to find other people who will love us and support us, no better way to live out the calling in each of our lives.
The church is not like a family, the church is a family. It’s God’s family.
1 Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours
It’s one of the fundamental questions that every Christian must ask. What is the Church? Is it a building? A group of people? A movement?
The Bible is rich with descriptions of and metaphors for the Church. There’s no limit to wide array of illustrations given. The Church begins with the children of Israel in the Old Testament, carries on into the New Testament, and is ultimately commissioned by Jesus in the flesh.
This thing, this “Church,” is worldwide, local, immediate, and imminent. One thing is for sure, the tie that binds those who are called the Church is Jesus Christ, the cornerstone. Those who call on His name are His people. He is theirs and they are His. The Church is His.
In the following weeks we’ll be looking deeper into what God’s Word has to say about the Church. What do you say that it is?
Ephesians 5:19-21 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
When God’s family comes together there’s a celebration. Because of all that the Father has done for us in Jesus Christ, there’s a lot to be thankful for, a lot of reasons to sing, so much to be thankful for.
How do you approach the weekly gathering of believers? Do you look at Sunday morning as a time to be solemn and quiet? Do you view it as a personal time of reflection? Those things have their place, but truly the gathering of the saints is a family reunion every time it happens.
The purpose of getting together with others who follow the Lord is to encourage each other, to build each other up, and to praise God in community with one another. We use our gifts to serve each other, put each other first, and honor Christ by doing so. Don’t be afraid to sing, don’t keep to yourself, don’t make it all about you. Sing, serve, encourage, and enjoy.
1 Peter 2:5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Where does God dwell? Is He confined to the walls of a church? Limited to operating on Sunday mornings? Or is God’s house a spiritual one, made of living stones?
In the Old Testament, the Lord had the people of Israel construct a temple, that He might dwell among them there (see Exodus). For generations, the tradition was that the temple was God’s dwelling place. Jesus came and turned everything upside down. On several occasions, Jesus made reference to destroying the temple and rebuilding it. He did this to illustrate how He would be killed and rise from the dead.
He, the stone that the builders (religious leaders) rejected, became the cornerstone (foundation) to the Church. Now we are the living stones that make up the Church, it’s no longer about a building, but a people. The church is alive and continuously growing and being built up. Each Christian is part of the priesthood and through their lives offering up spiritual sacrifices. We have direct access to God.
We are the Church, the body of Christ. We will bring about His kingdom, regardless of building or location.
Ephesians 4:20-22 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,
This fact of life should be revisited from time to time: Not everyone who teaches knows what they’re talking about. Likewise, not everyone who professes to speak for God truly speaks for Him.
The Apostle Paul uses and interesting phrase in this letter to the Ephesian church. He says “assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus.” The point he’s making is that he knows the Ephesians have learned better than to live like the pagans. But what about those in the church who have learned no better than to keep living in sin?
Some will come in the name of the Lord and yet contradict His Word. Some will claim to have heard from God himself and yet present a message that goes directly against His nature. Some will even mock God with their teaching and somehow still claim to be His representative. It’s our job to discern the truth from the garbage.
If anyone teaches a gospel that contradicts the Good News that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again from the grave and that His work on the cross was sufficient for salvation, then they’re not worth listening to. Paul warns elsewhere that even if an angel were to preach a false gospel it should be tossed out (Galatians 1:8).
So how do we know the truth from the false teaching? It’s important to start with getting acquainted with the Bible. In it God has revealed himself and His nature. The Bible is the truth tester. If something doesn’t stand up to agreement with it, then it’s false. If you seek the truth, you will find it.
Ephesians 4:15-16 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
It’s clear throughout the New Testament that God expects us to grow spiritually once we’re His. It’s not acceptable for a professing follower of Christ to just remain a spiritual infant. He must grow into maturity, and we must then help others to do the same.
The Church is called the “body of Christ” many times and this is not to be overlooked. There are very interesting parallels between a physical human body and a church of believers. Every member must do their part in order for the body to function and the body must grow in order to become mature. A physical body that does not grow is not normal and something is wrong which must be corrected. It is also true that without a head the body does nothing. Without a head the body cannot properly grow either.
Look at this in regards to the Church. We can’t grow individually or corporately as a body without our Head, who is Jesus. We can’t expect to become mature if we do it in our own power, apart from His giving of life. Though every member has his or her own function, talent, and calling, we’re all subject to the Head. In Him we grow, in Him we function, in Him we find unity, and in Him we find life.
If His love flows throughout the Church, there is growth. If there is a lack of love, there is no growth. There is turmoil, not unity. There is disfunction, not a living out of calling. But with His love, all things are in order, all things are functional. The body grows in love.
Ephesians 1:22-23 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Who’s your king? Is it some person on this earth who is in authority over others? Is it a President or a CEO? While these people may have power and may lord it over you, there is One who is truly over all things and He doesn’t exist to oppress you. He loves you.
Jesus Christ was placed in specific authority over the Church, even though He rules over all. The Church, that’s all of us who believe, serves as the body of Christ, living out His mission on this earth. His authority over us is not to control us or to hurt us, but to empower us and strengthen us. We’re better with Him in authority than we’d be without Him.
What about you personally? Is Christ head over you? Have you placed yourself under His authority? Are you living for Him or for your own agenda? It is a far better thing to submit to the King of Kings than to chase after our own desires and live as our own gods.